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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Circuit Assessment

Timing: 50 minutes class period

Target Audience:
Conceptual High School Physics Course (9th – 12th grades)

Objectives:
Students Will Be Able To:
• Identify the difference between parallel and series circuits.
• Construct circuits.
• Draw circuit diagrams.
• Describe what occurs when current is resisted.

The Teacher Will Be Able To:

• Assess student understanding of content from unit.

Standards Assessed: New York State Standards, The Physical Setting

• Key Idea 4.1 xii. construct simple series and parallel circuits
• Key Idea 4.1 xiii. draw and interpret circuit diagrams which include voltmeters and ammeters
• Key Idea 4.1 xiv. predict the behavior of light bulbs in series and parallel circuits

• Current gets "used up" as it flows through a circuit.
• Charges slow down as they go through a resistor.
• Current is the same thing as voltage.
• The resistance of a parallel combination is larger than the largest resistance.
• Current is an excess charge.
• Charges that flow in circuit are from the battery.
• The bigger the battery, the more voltage.
• Power and energy are the same thing.
• Batteries create energy out of nothing.

Concept Map Vocabulary: No concept map for this unit.

Necessary Preparation:
COPIES
• Circuit Assessment Worksheets
Becky McCoy

• Station Instructions for each station

MATERIALS
• 2 Beauty Bar lighting units
• 8 light bulbs (with extras just in case) – 40 watts are best because 60 watts get hot!
• Wire cutter/stripper
• Wire nuts
• Extension cords
• LEDs
• Resistors
• Power sources for each bread board
SET UP
• Construct mystery circuits and breadboards.
• Mystery circuit set up instructions found here: http://www.niles-hs.k12.il.us/marlie/tipersfiles/
Mystery%20Series%20and%20Parallel%20Circuit.doc
• Set up stations.
Becky McCoy

Lesson Plan

Physics Push-Up: Drawing Circuits (5 minutes)

Have students design a circuit that includes 4 bulbs with at least one series and one parallel circuit component.
There should be at least one battery. Students should be sure to show where they would attach a voltmeter and
ammeter.

Activity: Circuit Assessment (40 minutes)

Materials:
• Circuit Assessment Worksheets
• 2 Beauty Bar lighting units
• 8 light bulbs (with extras just in case) – 40 watts are best because 60 watts get hot!
• Wire cutter/stripper
• Wire nuts
• Extension cords
• LEDs
• Resistors
• Power sources for each bread board

Procedure:
Students will perform roughly the same procedure for each breadboard station as well as each mystery
circuit station. Ideally, students will have 5-8 minutes at each station. This lesson is designed as an
assessment, so students should be focused on the task.

Mystery Box Procedure:

1. Plug in the mystery circuit box.
2. Record your observations. NOTE: Students will need to check to see if bright bulbs are lit or just
reflecting light from the bulbs next to it.
3. Unscrew each light bulb (be sure to unplug the circuit first!!!) and record what has changed when
the circuit is plugged in again.
4. Draw a diagram of what you think the circuit looks like. Write a few sentences to explain your
drawing. You do not have to agree with your classmates about how the circuit is arranged.
5. Perform this same procedure at each mystery box station.

1. Connect the power source to the circuit board.
2. Plug in the power source and turn it on.
3. Write your observations of the circuit.
4. Draw a diagram of the circuit.
Becky McCoy

5. Answer the following thinking points:

• What did you notice about the LEDs in series? Why were they not all along the same line?
• What did you notice about the LEDs in parallel? Why were there even numbers of LEDs?
• What was difficult or simple about making drawings from the circuits observed?
6. Turn off the power supply, unplug it, and disconnect it from the circuit board.
7. Repeat above procedure at each bread board station.

Thinking Questions Procedure:

Students should answer the questions listed at their table.

Station Descriptions:
1. Mystery Lighting Box 1
1
2
4
3

2. Mystery Lighting Box 2

1
2
4
3

1 3

2 4

5. Thinking Questions
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• How must a circuit for a power strip be arranged? Why?

• How is the circuit for a wall outlet arranged and why?
• How might you explain dimmed lights in a circuit?

Homework: None

Exit Strategy: Quick Write (5 minutes)

Students should write a quick summary of the stations they experienced in class. They should identify the
station that was most straightforward to them and the one that was the most challenging.

Extension Activity:
Since this is a lesson designed to assess student learning, it should take up the entire class period. If there is
extra time, allow students to go back to stations they had questions about.

Assessment:
• Teacher observation of student interactions and conversations.
• Teacher evaluation of assessment worksheets.

Resources:
Martha Lietz: “Mystery Series and Parallel Circuit”
University of Dallas: http://phys.udallas.edu/C3P/Preconceptions.pdf

Becky McCoy

Circuit Assessment Worksheet

Follow the instructions at each station. Use this worksheet to record your observations and thoughts. The
worksheet will be collected at the end of class.